Spiritual Formation

Recently some of us have been listening to and reading some material from Soma Communities. I am trying to flesh out some of the concepts in my head and would love your feedback. There is a ton of stuff on this website, but I am focusing on the “mercy” portion for now.

I chose this for a few reasons… we have done probably the least to equip our mercy extender’s directly & I think if we really grab onto some of these things God could use us to make a big difference in the world for His Glory!


Listen: carefully and submissively listen to God alone and together to gain clarity on the

mission He has called you to lead people toward


  • Take some extended time to listen, pray and journal
  • Do pray walks or prayer drives to discern what God is saying
  • Pay attention to His calling as demonstrated through personal convictions, passions, ongoing leadings
  • Let the Spirit of God check your heart – what are your motives?

Story-formed: as you gain clarity on the mission God has called you to, begin doing the

work to understand the story of that context and how best to bring the gospel to bear within it


  • Do a historical study of the neighborhood, city, people groups, etc...
  • Look for things that already exist that demonstrate the story of the culture (civic groups, social services, educational strengths/weaknesses, businesses, housing structures, people groups, etc…)
  • Identify things that exist that are open doors for the gospel and those that are demonstrations of gospel barriers
  • Overall, look for where the Story of God and the Story of the Culture can intersect

Celebrate: identify and join the celebrations that already exist within the culture God is

sending you to and look to develop new forms of celebration that bring the gospel to

bear in a culturally appropriate way


  • Identify the celebrations that the culture is engaged in that you can participate fully in and still display the gospel
  • Identify the celebrations that exist that need redemption and look for ways to enter in and redeem them
  • Identify the celebrations that do not exist, ask God if they should and if so, how you should go about developing culturally appropriate forms for celebrating
  • With a team of leaders/workers begin to engage in present celebrations and prayerfully plan out culturally appropriate ones for the community

Bless: determine the most appropriate forms through which the community you’re called

to would feel blessed and it would be “Good News”

(Consider one of the Seven Pillars as a starting point: Education, Business, Media/Arts, Health Care, Government, Service Organizations, Disenfranchised)


  • Determine what is broken or missing in your community
  • Find out what exists to deal with those things and determine how you could serve
  • If it doesn’t exist, discern with God and in community whether you are supposed to start something and who you should work with to see it started

Eat: begin to identify the “watering holes” in the community God is sending you to and frequent them often


  • Determine the watering holes by paying attention to where the people you’re sent to hang out often
  • Regularly eat/drink there and pay attention (listen to others, ask questions, learn)
  • Become known as people who live out good news (tip well, bring more business by leading others to join you, etc…)
  • If a good gathering spot does not exist, prayerfully consider starting one

ReCreate: learn about the work habits of the community and what they do for rest and play


  • Get to know the kinds of work people are doing and what connection points you might have with them
  • Discover their weekly/monthly/yearly rhythms of work/rest/play and begin to align with them
  • Prayerfully consider how you might demonstrate Creation/Rest to your culture so they might see Gospel through you and with you

Adapting a theology of mission from missiologist Leslie Newbigin, George Hunsberber, develops 3

relationships that must occur between the church, gospel and culture:

What thoughts, questions, answers, does this bring to mind?


This Sunday a variety of Christian communities around the world will be reading the following passage… Mark 4:35-41

5On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him.37A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Many of our lives have a bit of uncertainty right now. Jobs? Families? Money? Relationships? Balance? Purpose? Missional Calling? Time? Etc…

How often do you look at all of the things going on around you and feel a bit trapped on a boat that is being toppled by waves? It happens to me sometimes. Often when this happens I do a couple things… I pick up a bucket and start throwing water overboard (this doesn’t usually work as the rain continues to pour in), then I move to freak out…

This may be a bit of what the disciples went through, on their own strength wanting Jesus to get up and start throwing buckets of water out of the with them, but he was what?? sleeping??

I get the opportunity to spend time with a lot of leaders at Visio Dei talking about our faith journeys. Sometimes we feel like Jesus is sleeping and don’t really know how to wake him up. Sometimes we are shouting at God for an answer or direction and don’t really see it. Sometimes we are just too overwhelmed to realize that Jesus is still peacefully with us. Sometimes we try out all sorts of ‘buckets’ before we realize our capacity isn’t enough.

When I read this, I am reminded that when I am afraid, uncertain or trying to hard to do things on my own. I need to run to Jesus, to trust Jesus, to seek his word, to pray, to put down my bucket long enough to listen to him calm the storm and sit in awe of his command.

I’m not suggesting that when we do this we will automatically have all of our questions answered, I don’t believe God works that way. But, when we do this, we become more connected to our God, Jesus, Love, Hope, Peace, Passion, Mission…

We need Jesus. Run to him, cling to him, learn from, find others to help you do this too, allow him to fill you with the power to do what you are called to do.

What do you think about when you read this passage?

A few years ago I remember hearing a sermon somewhere about “eating the word”… for some reason that phrase stayed with me. I believe it was talking about how we are to approach the scriptures, to taste it, to chew on it, to meditate on it, to digest it, to allow it to nourish and change us… something like that??

Anyways, today I started out with my memory verse: So, let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Gal. 6:9

Then, I went and started to read Galatians, started with ch. 6 and then added 5. In light of the shepherding training that we had on Sunday and the teachings from Corinthians, I thought this passage would be applicable to our community, a passage to eat, a passage to digest, a passage to consider. 

So, I am going to type out this passage here and bold the parts that stood out to me. I may interject some thoughts or questions along the way. I think it would serve you well to eat this word! 


So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Listen! I Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of not benefit to you. I say it again, If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. 

  • maybe its not circumcision for us, but there are other things that we look to for justification… what is it for you? — let it go! 

But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. 

  • so what does that look like? 

You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. The false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever it is, who has been confusing you. 

  • What are you confused about? What do we need to be cautious of? 

Dear brothers and sisters, if I were still preaching that you must be circumcised–as some say I do– why I am I still being persecuted? If I were no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended. I just wish that those trouble-makers who want to mutilate you by circumcision would mutilate themselves. 

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead use your freedom to serve one another in love.  For the whole law is summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. 

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 

  • anyone ever feel this way? 
  • I have this thought that if we are pursuing our spiritual gifts and using them, we will be more filled with the spirit and less filled with the sin nature. as we are practically, prayerfully and actually running towards who God has created us the sinful desire will loose power! 

But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that kind of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God! 

  • this isn’t a check off list, it can’t be in light of the beginning of the chapter, its an observation of what happens to us. the sickness of sin invades our life, we must pursue “faith expressing itself in love”

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. 

  • what can we learn here? trust! prayer! humility! — we ALREADY have freedom, we need to believe that we do. 


Dear brothers and sisters, if another brother is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 

  • there it is… share each other’s burdens, this is the law of Christ! 

If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important! 

  • i just love that part! 

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. 

  • anyone else ever struggle with comparison? anyone else ever feel responsible for others? 
  • there must be a difference between sharing in each other’s burdens and taking over responsibilities of others… maybe some learning on boundaries will be helpful! 

Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them. Don’t be misled– you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone–especially those in the family of faith. 

  • there it is again… this communal aspect to living out our faith in love… this encouragement to not give up, this tension between resting in our freedom and what the Spirit does and a call to persevere by our actions… Got to love the gray and the mystery… Got to pursue the Spirit and allow it to surprise us!

NOTICE WHAT LARGE LETTERS I USE AS I WRITE THESE CLOSING WORDS IN MY OWN HANDWRITING. Those who are trying to force you to be circumcised want to look to good to others. They don’t want to be persecuted for teaching that the cross of Christ alone can save. And even those who advocate circumcision don’t keep the whole law themselves. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast about it and claim you as their disciples. 

As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have  been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle: they are the new people of God. 

  • Wow! Do we believe it? Do we see ourselves as new creations with new trajectories for life? We have spiritual gifts, we have gifts that God makes powerful by his grace, we have freedom from external pressure to measure up with the world or to get our status from our stuff, our relationships, our crowds, our abilities. 
  • Humility, graciousness and love seem to be the theme here to me. Its all about God! 

From now on, don’t let anyone trouble me with these things. For I bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus. Dear brothers and sisters, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen

  • I’m not quite sure about that part, but it seems to me that Paul really wants the Galatians to get this idea of freedom and new life, to pursue the Holy Spirit and to let go of the legalism without falling into temptation… 



I would love to hear your thoughts on any of this. My prayer is that as we learn together we can encourage each other to engage with what our own issues might be and how we can humbly help each other to truly believe and act on the truth that we are made new through Christ alone.

Here is a challenge this week… Choose one person in your life, could be in your family, your work place, your home group and start praying for them. Ask God to open your eyes to what the Holy Spirit is doing in them.

Do you have that person in mind?

So, I gave a chapter of “Connecting” by Larry Crabb to our shepherds. Let me know if you want a copy.

I would like to highlight some important aspects and set forth a challenge to you for application. This chapter was all about developing a vision for another’s life. Not a selfish vision, but a God breathed vision; not a vision that focuses on obstacles or challenges, but a vision that focuses on hope and grace. A vision that requires us to pray like crazy and dream bigger than ourselves.

    Here are 5 observations to remember when encouraging the people God places in your life:

1) A Spirit-inspired vision sometimes includes an idea of what a person could do, but it ALWAYS centers on who that person could BECOME.

2) A Spirit-inspired vision for someone reliably creates anguish in the heart of the visionary.

3) A Spirit inspired vision for someone is necessarily the product of spiritual discernment. Without ongoing fervent prayer, our vision for others becomes self-serving.

4) A Spirit inspired vision sometimes develops best when the one about whom we’re forming the vision is farthest from God.

5) A Spirit inspired vision is less concerned with practically moving someone in a good direction and more concerned with catching a glimpse of what could be.

So, take some time this week to consider who God has placed in your life. Can you begin to see one person the way that God does? Ask the Spirit, Our Lord, for help doing this. Then respond, have patience and hope for what God wants to see happen among us.

What part of this is most changeling to you?
Where have you caught a glimpse of Spirit inspired vision?
When has someone spoken God’s words into your life?

I was encouraged by Jeff’s sermon to suggest some resources that could help people in their rhythm of prayer life. I thought his point that Jesus’ prayer was so simple, yet not completely intuitive was very insightful. We are continually learners of His way, but this prayer provides a compass for us to navigate our journey to connect to God.

Throughout history, people in the church have practiced ways of connecting with God through certain disciplines. Spiritual disciplines can help to center us, ground us, and unite us in Christ in order to experience and become more aware of Christ’s presence and purposes in our daily life and relationships.

Rather than feeling guilty that we are not doing enough, we are always invited into the gracious presence of Christ to be known by Him and know Him more.

If you’d like to learn more about specific practices that could be helpful or adapted to your personal spiritual life, with your spouse, or with your journey group, here are some great resources:

From the Mars Hill website:

  • specifically- the Examen and the Lectio Divina
  • these can be practiced as individuals or with a spouse or small group
  • you can learn more about these practices on the Metamorpha site that focuses on spiritual transformation

From the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality site:

  • specifically- tools for the Daily Office
  • I’ve started reading this book, and I would whole-heartedly recommend it

For a contemporary approach to practicing the presence of God: Other disciplines that could be helpful:

  • Meditating on one of the seven lines from the Lord’s prayer throughout each day of the week
  • prayer walking
  • silence
  • memorizing/meditating on a verse a week and putting it in your car or place you will see it
  • sitting quietly in a dark room looking at a flame
  • taking a day away from the computer a week
  • having set hours not to be on the computer or the TV

Maybe others have other resources or disciplines they have found helpful? Feel free to share so other can learn from what God has given to you.

I pray we would continually learn to connect to God in deeper ways, to be people of spiritual richness and intimate knowledge of Christ, that His Presence would change us from the inside out so that we would overflow His love to others, see His purposes all around us, that others would know that Jesus is alive in us, that His Kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven. Have a great day! Corey

As learners, lovers, and givers we expect to …

o Grow and depend on Jesus
o Accept and extend His healing when we are weak, afraid, and broken
o Pray, dream, and work for the healing and transformation of our city and world
o Be a voice of hope that another way of life is possible
o Embrace and develop our role in the body of Christ
o Identify, encourage and release the gifts of others
o Bring unity to the body by appreciating and valuing one another’s differences

These are expectations that we laid out in January. I’m just checking in to remind us that our primary focus is growing and depending on Jesus as we follow him.

How is it going?

Its not easy. I know!

Growing up, the main thing I remember about Lent was my dad gave up eating lots of chocolate, but started eating a lot of bread. I generally thought of it as a not-so-fun time of year where you give something up you like. Since then, I’ve learned there is a bit more to it and Lent is actually a chance to deepen our spirituality as we become more in tune with the central mystery of the Christian faith- the passion and resurrection.

Brief History of Lent

In the early church, Lent served as a time of self-examination for new converts to the faith. As the church grew, the tradition expanded to a more formalized, 40 day season of repentance for the whole church. After the Reformation, the church often has been suspicious of rituals, traditions, and formal calendars for creating a dead, faith when we have been given access to the grace through faith.

In recent years, there has been a “reawakening” to some of the traditional practices from church history in search of a deeper, historical expression of the Christian faith. Rather than seeing traditions as dead rituals or religious superstitions, tradition can be a source of deepening our walk with Christ, and our community in Christ.

Significance of Lent

This season of 40 days is a time to pause and reflect on our lives as we prepare for the celebration of the Resurrection. Following the discipline of the church calendar can help us to become more aware of what Christ is doing in our hearts and all around us as we prepare for a more authentic, meaningful celebration of Easter. In our quick fix-instant gratification culture, it is easy to not be very reflective on the state of our souls and treat the cross and resurrection as a magic ticket to heaven. We are often guilty of wanting the benefits of Christ without being willing to take on the way of Jesus. One missionary says, “a superficial understanding of the events and pattern of Christ’s death only leads to a shallow and impotent experience of our new life in Christ.”